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Network 101: What Is The Difference Between LAN, WAN, MAN, CAN, VPN, BAN, NAN, SAN?

Posted 8 months ago

What Is A Network?

In order to understand the difference between the network types, it’s important to first understand what a network is. Simply enough, a network is two or more connected computers or other devices, linked for the purpose of communicating or sharing resources. This connection can either be wired or wireless through the use of cables, satellites, radio waves, telephone lines, and infrared light beams. By and large, the most common types of network is a LAN (Local Area Network).

What Differentiates One Kind of Network From Another?

For the most part, the differentiating factor in the types of networks is how large of a system it is, or how many devices are included in the network’s area, as well as how those devices are connected to one another.

LAN

The most basic and common type of network, a LAN, or local area network, is a network connecting a group of devices in a “local” area, usually within the same building. These connections are generally powered through the use of Ethernet cables, which have length limitations, as the speed of the connection will degrade beyond a certain length.

A WLAN, or wireless LAN, is a subtype of LAN. It uses WiFi to make the LAN wireless through the use of a wireless router.

HAN

A HAN, or home area network, is a network connecting devices within a home. These networks are a type of LAN. All the devices inside the household, including computers, smartphones, game consoles, televisions, and home assistants that are connected to the router are a part of the HAN.

CAN

A CAN, or campus area network, usually comprises several LANs. They cover a campus, connecting several buildings to the main firewall. A university could use a CAN, as could a corporate headquarters.

MAN

Even larger than a CAN, a MAN is a metropolitan area network. These can cover an area as large as a city, linking multiple LANs through a wired backhaul. An example of a MAN would be a citywide WiFi network.

WAN

In contrast to the smaller LAN and HANs, a WAN is a wide area network, covering any distance necessary. The Internet could be considered a WAN that covers the entire Earth.

VPN

A VPN is a virtual private network, or a network of devices that aren’t connected through any physical means. The devices connected through a VPN could be anywhere and any distance apart, and are simply connected through the Internet. Many individuals choose to install VPNs on their personal computers, as they offer an extra layer of security and privacy protection.

PAN

A PAN is a personal area network, and devices within a PAN are usually no more than 10 yards apart. Devices connected through Bluetooth technology could be considered part of a PAN, as it is both wireless and devices must be within a close proximity to one another.

BAN

A BAN, or body area network, is an area connected through extremely low-range wireless communication, all within the vicinity of the human body. Devices connected to a BAN could include smartwatches, surgically implanted medical devices, and fitness armbands.

NAN (Near-me Network)

An informal type of network, a NAN is a near-me network, or a network of devices informally connected by their proximity to one another. An example of this could be a business meeting in which various colleagues are sitting at the same conference table, sharing files to one another’s devices. They could all be connected to the Internet through different means – cellular, WiFi, or wired connection – but they are a part of the same informal network because they are sharing resources with one another.

Choose the Right Network for Your Business

Need help determining which network to install for your business? At Customer 1st Communications, we specialize in designing and installing networks as one of the premier network security companies in the metro Atlanta area. We also offer support in everything from security and CCTV installation to sound masking services.

Ready to see how C1C can help your business? Contact us online today for a free consultation and find out how our IT professionals can meet your needs, or give us a call at 855-TECH-C1C (855-832-4212).

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